Not a member?     Existing members login below:
Take Free-eBooks to GO! With our Mobile Apps here

De Cive
Philosophicall Rudiments Concerning Government and Society.
Or, A Dissertation Concerning Man in his severall habitudes and respects, as the Member of a Society,
first Secular, and then Sacred.
Containing The Elements of Civill Politie in the Agreement which it hath both with Naturall and Divine
In which is demonstrated, Both what the Origine of Justice is, and wherein the Essence of Christian
Religion doth consist.
Together with The Nature, Limits and Qualifications both of Regiment and Subjection.
By Thomas Hobbes
Printed by J.C. for R. Royston, at the Angel in Ivie-Lane.
To the Right Honourable, William, Earle of Devonshire,
My most honoured Lord
May it please your Lordship,
It was the speech of the Roman people (to whom the name of King had been render'd odious, as well
by the tyrannie of the Tarquins, as by the Genius and Decretals of that City) 'Twas the speech I say of
the publick, however pronounced from a private mouth, (if yet Cato the Censor were no more than
such) That all Kings are to be reckon'd amongst ravenous Beasts. But what a Beast of prey was the
Roman people, whilst with its conquering Eagles it erected its proud Trophees so far and wide over the
world, bringing the Africans, the Asiaticks, the Macedonians, and the Achaeans, with many other
despoyled Nations, into a specious bondage, with the pretence of preferring them to be Denizens of
Rome? So that if Cato's saying were a wise one, 'twas every whit as wise that of Pontius Telesinus;
who flying about with open mouth through all the Companies of his Army, (in that famous encounter
which he had with Sylla) cryed out, That Rome her selfe, as well as Sylla, was to be raz'd; for that there
would alwayes be Wolves and Depraedatours of their Liberty, unlesse the Forrest that lodg'd them
were grubb'd up by the roots. To speak impartially, both sayings are very true; That Man to Man is a
kind of God; and that Man to Man is an arrant Wolfe. The first is true, if we compare Citizens amongst
themselves; and the second, if we compare Cities. In the one, there's some analogie of similitude with
the Deity, to wit, Justice and Charity, the twin-sisters of peace: But in the other, Good men must defend
themselves by taking to them for a Sanctuary the two daughters of War, Deceipt and Violence: that is
in plaine termes a meer brutall Rapacity: which although men object to one another as a reproach, by
an inbred custome which they have of beholding their own actions in the persons of other men,
wherein, as in a Mirroir, all things on the left side appeare to be on the right, & all things on the right
side to be as plainly on the left; yet the naturall right of preservation which we all receive from the
uncontroulable Dictates of Necessity, will not admit it to be a Vice, though it confesse it to be an
Unhappinesse. Now that with Cato himselfe, (a person of so great a renowne for wisdome) Animosity
should so prevaile instead of Judgement, and partiality instead of Reason, that the very same thing
which he thought equall in his popular State, he should censure as unjust in a Monarchical, other men
perhaps may have leisure to admire. But I have been long since of this opinion, That there was never
yet any more than vulgar prudence that had the luck of being acceptable to the Giddy people; but either
it hath not been understood, or else having been so, hath been levell'd and cryed downe. The more
eminent Actions and Apothegms both of the Greeks and Romans have been indebted for their
Eulogies not so much to the Reason, as to the Greatnesse of them, and very many times to that
prosperous usurpation (with which our Histories doe so mutually upbraid each other) which as a
conquering Torrent carryes all before it, as well publick Agents as publick Actions, in the streame of
Time. Wisdome properly so call'd is nothing else but this, The perfect knowledge of the Truth in all
matters whatsoever. Which being derived from the Registers and Records of Things, and that as 'twere
through the Conduit of certain definite Appellations, cannot possibly be the work of a suddaine